07/06/2012 3:43PM

Hollywood Park: Lemon Hero tries again in Le Cle

Benoit & Associates
Lemon Hero, winner of her maiden race in March, has been in the top three in three subsequent starts.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Lemon Hero fell a neck short of winning the Manhattan Beach Stakes for turf sprinters on June 9, a loss that both frustrated and encouraged trainer Peter Eurton.

Another few strides and Lemon Hero might have caught race winner Byrama. Instead, Lemon Hero is only stakes-placed, but obviously capable of more when she starts in Sunday’s $68,000 Le Cle Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park.

The Le Cle Stakes is run over a mile on turf for 3-year-old fillies and has drawn a field of five. None of the entrants has won a stakes; Lemon Hero’s narrow loss is the closest.

Dijarvo, trained by Paddy Gallagher, was third of four fillies in the Grade 3 Railbird Stakes on May  19. Trois Aureole and Long Face were fourth and fifth in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap on June 9. Lady Ten, trained by Bob Baffert, will make her stakes debut on the strength of consecutive wins in a maiden race and optional claimer on turf in May and June.

Lemon Hero, by Lemon Drop Kid, races for Marc and Vinka Ferrell. The winner of a $30,000 claiming race for maidens in March, she has finished in the first three in three subsequent starts, including a win in a starter allowance on a sloppy track at Santa Anita on April 13.

The Le Cle Stakes will be Lemon Hero’s second start around two turns, preceded by a seventh in a $50,000 claimer for maidens on Jan. 22. Eurton said the presence of speedy fillies such as Dijarvo and Lady Ten in the Le Cle should help a stalker such as Lemon Hero.

“It’s a nice short field and that helps her,” Eurton said. “There seems to be enough speed in there. I think she’s learned how to track now.”

Dijarvo makes her first start at a mile in the Le Cle. Owned by Harlequin Ranches, Dijarvo was beaten five lengths by Via Villaggio in the seven-furlong Railbird. How Dijarvo finishes in the Le Cle will determine how she is campaigned this summer, trainer Paddy Gallagher said.

“It’s something to try with her,” he said. “She gives the impression that she can run on.”

Lady Ten will have a major role. She has led or disputed the pace in her last two races. The presence of leading trainer Baffert and leading rider Rafael Bejarano assures she will be a short price.